Made in Japan – 10/7/08

Made in Japan – 10/7/08

This week:
A Chindogu Master Shows Off His Inventions, Hand-Guided Spotlight, Decorating For Earthquake Safety, Tilt-Shifting in Quartz Composer, See My Dimple’s Light Writing, Gainer Controlling a Virtual Airplane, Lullatone: Bringing DIY Instruments to the Kids, and Void Cube, The Rubik’s Cube With No Center.

A Chindogu Master Shows Off His Inventions
Here’s a funny video of chindogu (weird inventions for trivial problems) maker Kenji Kawakami showing off a few of his best inventions. First off are the shoe umbrellas to keep your feet dry. One small weak point: “They make it kind of hard to walk.” Then we see his golf club that dries your laundry as you swing it. Next we see him in a train, faced with the scenario in which there are no seats, and no straps to grab onto. His Chindogu solution: A strap that is held to the ceiling by a plunger. This invention’s weak point? Nothing. Next we see Kawakami looking kind of suspicious at the pachinko parlor. The reason for his smile? He’s picking up pachinko balls with his special chindogu shoes. Employees will yell at you though, so this one isn’t for the good kids out there. Finally we see his roving easy chair and table on wheels, for those who want to relax while they’re on the move. This chindogu’s weak point: “You have to push it along with your feet, so it might not be good for long distances.” Joking nature aside, it’s great to see such imagination and whimsy applied to the creation of new ideas.

Hand-Guided Spotlight
Here’s an accelerometer that senses the hand movements to move the spotlight’s mirror with corresponding movements. Communication between the devices comes from a 2.4 GHz wireless modem, the protocol is DMX512. The knob on the controller changes the color. With an interface done this well, it would even allow a performer to control the spotlight beam from the stage if so desired. From MAKE: Japan via JH3IYO Lab.

Decorating For Earthquake Safety
Japan is a market for earthquake safety devices, including poles that are meant to be fixed between the tops of shelves and the ceiling above them to keep stuff from falling down from against the wall in an earthquake. Enter the Jaki, sort of the gargoyle of Buddhist architecture, this mythical ogre is often spotted holding up roof supports above his head. This DPZ writer had her dad draw up the Jaki, and then cut out the figure from styrofoam and attached it to be adjustable on the earthquake safety pole. I’d say it brings a lot more reassurance knowing that you have a tough-looking ogre keep your furniture from falling over than just a regular pole.

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Tilt-Shifting in Quartz Composer
With lots of tilt-shift coverage going around the interwebs these days, here’s a trick from Takahashi-san over at the Some Comments blog on how to pull of a tilt-shift effect using Quartz Composer. He provides a download of the Quartz file as well as a mask file so that you can be on your way with this. I’d imagine that doing this in Quartz Composer would give you the ability to manipulate a lot of different variables on the fly, making this a tool with a lot of potential for VJ’s and other AV manipulators.

See My Dimple – Light Writing
Mai Shimizu and Yousuke Fuyama make up the duo known as See My Dimple. They make pretty brutal glitch music that is sure to awaken your senses. Here’s a video of them manipulating visuals and sound with a Max/MSP/Jitter creation and some colored light sources. Unlike a lot of noise musicians, they actually look like they’re having fun, so props for that.

Gainer Controlling a Virtual Airplane
Here’s a cute, simple demo of a Gainer controlling an airplane on the computer screen. It reminds me of when I was a kid, sticking my hand out the window when we were driving down the highway, but instead of imagining my hand was a plane, in this demo it actually becomes a plane. The kids these days, they don’t know how good they have it.

Lullatone: Bringing DIY Instruments to the Kids
Shawn Seymour, ex-member of Louisville’s criminally underrated rock unit The Moths, has been living in Nagoya, Japan with his wife Yoshimi Tomida for some time, honing their craft that is Lullatone, releasing a slew of albums and even composing music for Sanrio’s 30th anniversary of Hello Kitty. With a new baby in their lives, their music has also taken a child-centered turn, with Shawn appearing on Tokai TV’s kid’s show Sukusuku Pon where he teaches kids how to make musical instruments out of household objects:

These kids stay busy: Shawn, originally from Louisville, America, has been appearing on a Saturday morning kids’ TV show called Sukusuku Pon. His feature is called “Lullatone Ouchi Orchestra” (Lullatone Home Orchestra), where he has been teaching the kids how to make guitars out of rubber bands and shoeboxes, drums out of jars, castanets out of cardboard, and xylophones out of glasses of water. How fun! The instruments were featured in a recent Lullatone exhibition in Amagasaka, Nagoya.

PingMag brings us this interview with Lullatone, covering the inception of the project, their music-making process, and recent forays into sound design.

Void Cube, The Rubik’s Cube With No Center
The Void Cube is a strange subspecies of the Rubik’s cube, but mysteriously has no center. This product is the brainchild of Ehime prefecture gaming guru Katsuo Okamoto.
See it in action:

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